Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Summer festival in Kyoto - Daimonji Matsuri

Kyoto, where I grew up has a very hot and humid summer - even at night it is still warm.  August is the hottest month in a year so it is not an ideal summer destination if you want to chill out on the beach.  However, in the middle of the month, there is my favorite and, I think, the most beautiful festival that is worth enduring the heat.

It is Daimonji Matsuri on Aug 15.  In Japan, we have a season called 'bon' or 'o-bon' between summer and autumn, when we invite the spirit of our ancestors to our house and celebrate for the gratefulness of our living.  Daimonji festival is held on the last day of this obon season.  On the night of the 15th, the letters and the shapes of ship and gate made in fire are lit on mountains surrounding the city.  It is the day when our ancestors return to the spirit world again.  By lighting up the fire on the mountains, we show the path to the spirit world so that they know the way to go back.

It is not like a carnival or parade that people march around, but it is a serene and quiet one; it touches your inner self.  The fire on the mountains are peaceful and beautiful.  Whenever I return to Kyoto on this day, I go up to the top of the building and stare at the light until the fire goes out, as I used to do since I was little.  

There are 6 letters and shapes lit on the mountains in the city of Kyoto.

As a child, I may have sensed that there is something more than what I can see.  I am here not all for myself but I exist because there is always someone or something that overlooks and protects my life.

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